Racism spurs health problems

By Becky Reiser

A visiting professor from the University of Washington conducted a study that found that… A visiting professor from the University of Washington conducted a study that found that U.S.-born Latino and Asian people suffer more discrimination and mental health issues than Latino and Asian immigrants.

David T. Takeuchi, professor of sociology and associate dean of research at the University of Washington, spoke yesterday as part of the Reed Smith lecture series in the Center for Race and Social Problems within the School of Social Work.

About 40 people attended the lecture in the Cathedral of Learning. Takeuchi’s lecture, titled ‘Discrimination and Health Consequences across Diverse Groups,’ discussed the research study, called the National Latino and Asian American Study.

The objective of the study was to find the prevalence of disorders in Latino and Asian-Americans, “groups largely underrepresented in literature,” said Takeuchi. The beginning of the presentation included an overview of how race was viewed in the United States over time.

Currently, academics widely believe that race is socially constructed through political and national interests, and the results of Takeuchi’s study support this thought. In the study, the Latino group included Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, among other Latinos. The Asian-American pool included Chinese, Vietnamese and Filipino participants, along with other Asians.

Discrimination was measured by factors such as the levels of courtesy individuals received, poor service at restaurants and how others viewed the different ethnic groups. For example, some thought the ethnic groups were dishonest, “not as smart” and generally not as “good.”

Takeuchi said that participants in the study who were immigrants were more likely to believe the discrimination was about their races and accents, whereas the U.S.-born minorities were more likely to endure everyday unfair treatment. U.S.-born Latino and Asian people believe that discrimination against them is not simply rooted in their races and accents.

Takeuchi also discovered that racial and ethnic discrimination has a strong effect on their mental health. As a result, most participants of the study reported having symptoms of depression.

“The results were consistent and had a strong effect on major depression and other health problems,” said Takeuchi. Takeuchi would like to use these results to study the neighborhoods where large proportions of these ethnic groups live and find out if there are significant social contexts, as well.